Mountain High 

Last week's deep arctic freeze caught many by surprise, making it difficult to know if fall has fallen away already. I'm wondering if any of you powder hounds had something to do with it since you've been continually urging the snow goddess to bask our mountains in gorgeous white powder. Well, looks like you got some of it.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANNE MEDLEY

This week, your powers of frozen water solicitation are put to even better use at the Western Montana Avalanche Foundation's annual Burning Dog "Pray for Snow Party," which features vended food, beer from Big Sky Brewing, the Montana premiere of the Powder Whore film Flakes, as well as music from locals Places and a surprise appearance by Portland hip-hop faves Lifesavas. The action runs from 6–10 PM at the Big Sky Brewery Amphitheater, 5417 Trumpeter Way, and costs $11 at the door. Once the revelry has reached its peak, a 40-foot tall Powder Hound Dog is burned (much like the "Man" at Burning Man). All proceeds from the party go to the foundation, a nonprofit that educates locals about avalanches.

After shaking off a beer and hip-hop induced hangover, spend both Saturday and Sunday helping the Missoula Nordic Ski Club clean off debris and logs from local ski trails in preparation for its upcoming season. The first cleanup is Saturday from 9 AM–12 PM at the Pattee Canyon Trail, so meet at the Pattee Canyon picnic area parking lot at 9 AM. Bring gloves, warm clothes and tools like rakes, shovels, a chain saw or bow saw. E-mail Craig at kruegerkenyon@gmail.com. The second cleanup is Sunday at the Rattlesnake Trailhead and also runs from 9 AM–12 PM, so plan to meet at the trailhead parking lot at 9 AM. Also bring rakes, shovels and everything listed above. E-mail charles.wellenstein@umontana.edu. You can participate in both events for free, but you should plan on parting with $35 for a yearly membership to the club if you plan to participate in any of their upcoming skiing trips. Nab more info at www.missoulanordic.org. Also, if you're interested, head to a board meeting for the club on Mon., Oct. 19, from 6–8 PM at the banquet room of the Press Box, 835 E. Broadway St.

If the stewardship bug has bit, but you'd rather steer toward the Rattlesnake Creek area, prepare for a full day of weed pulling and tree planting when you accompany the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed Group for some restoration bidnizz from 9 AM–5 PM at the Bugbee Nature Area, off Missoula Avenue. Besides heaving things up and plopping stuff into the ground, you'll also spread your native grass and wildflower seeds to your heart's content. Bring work gloves, a good attitude, and warm clothing. Also, if you've got 'em, haul over any wheelbarrows, shovels and the like. Free, and park on Herbert, Raymond or Charis streets. Call Andrew at 531-2527 or e-mail rattlesnakecreek.watershedgroup@gmail.com.

Perhaps stretching your hamstrings seems more lively than yanking weeds. If so, sprint over to the annual Pumpkin Run at Maclay Flats off Blue Mountain Road so you can register your kid at 8:45 AM for a 400-meter kids run (for those 12 and under) which starts at 9:45 AM, or sign up to try your own luck during an adult 5K race at 10 AM. Each run leads you through trails in the Lolo National Forest, near the flats. $9 5k race/$3 kids run. Also, be glad to know all proceeds go to hungry bellies at the Missoula Food Bank. Call Ben Schmidt at 542-1257.

After taking Sunday off and heading back to the drudgery of work on Mon., Oct. 19, ease those strained muscles with a massage as UM physical therapy students offer a by-appointment massage clinic from 6:30 PM–9 PM in Room 129 of the Skaggs Building on UM's campus. A 20-minute sesh runs you $10, while a 40-minute kneading excursion costs $18. Call 243-4753 for an appointment.

Once you hit hump day on Wed., Oct. 21, leap on over to the Bitterroot National Forest (BNF) supervisor's office, 1801 First St. in Hamilton, between 1PM–7 PM where you can pore over maps and documents related to the forest's travel management planning project, which is currently in public review until Nov. 9. You can also ask forest service officials about the project and address your concerns. If you're not in the know, the idea of the project is to give motorized and non-motorized users of the BNF a quality recreation experience, while at the same time protecting the forest's natural resources. Call 363-7100 or visit www.fs.fed.us/r1/bitterroot.

After you've exercised your nature-loving rights, head back up to Missoula and over to the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., at 7 PM, where the skies become a subject of curiosity during the lecture "New Discoveries in the World of Astronomy", as UM prof Diane Friend sweeps you through distant planets,

discusses the potential for extra-terrestrial life, and gives an update on the status of our demoted friend way out in the solar regions, the former planet Pluto. $4 suggested donation. And, if the weather isn't crappy, you'll end

the evening with stargazing. Call 327-0405 or visit www.montananaturalist.org.

Astronomy might not arouse your senses as much as caves do, so if you're a cave dweller, saunter over to Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St., at 7 PM to meet with other subterranean enthusiasts when the Rocky Mountain Grotto of the National Speleological Society meets for a presentation by Liz Carriere titled "Record Rainfall Scapegoat 2009." Expect the dope on Carriere's adventures caving in the Scapegoat Wilderness during

this free presentation. E-mail cave3d@msn.com or visit www.caves.org/grotto/nrmg/index.html.

With your hands now full with a variety of outdoors—or outdoor-themed—undertakings, I implore you to try to have fun out there in those frosty fields and hills.

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